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Civil Society Groups Create Model National Action Plan

As part of engagement in the Open Government Partnership, the US government is required to develop an OGP country plan with concrete commitments on open government. The government makes public commitments to both domestic and international audiences and accountability for those commitments is built into the OGP process.

To set high standards for the US government's third plan, civil society groups created a model National Action Plan. OpenTheGovernment.org invited civil society groups and members of the public to submit their own model commitments through a Google site, and break down the big goals of openness into concrete steps that could be reasonably taken over a year's time. Several issues included in civil society's first model National Action Plan were incorporated in the government's second NAP.

OpenTheGovernment.org's Statement on the McCain-Feinstein Anti-Torture Amendment

OpenTheGovernment.org strongly supports passage of Amendment 1889 to the NDAA, the McCain-Feinstein amendment. The amendment would seek to prevent the United States government from ever again engaging in torture, by requiring that:

--All interrogations by the United States government, including by the CIA, must comply with the standards in the Department of Defense’s Field Manual on Interrogation

Groups Urge Senate to Oppose the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA)

The Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (“CISA”), which the full Senate is expected to debate in the near future, does far more to increase surveillance and undermine transparency than to protect against cyber threats, according to 12 open government and civil liberties groups. The groups joined OpenTheGovernment.org in a letter urging the Senate to reject the bill in its entirety.

OpenTheGovernment.org Statement on the Passage of The USA Freedom Act

Yesterday the Senate passed the USA Freedom Act by a 67-32 vote, after rejecting several attempts to weaken it. President Obama signed the bill into law last night.

OpenTheGovernment.org and POGO Oppose Efforts to Further Weaken USA Freedom Act

Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act expired on Sunday, May 31 at midnight, several hours after the Senate voted 77 to 17 to begin debate on the USA Freedom Act. The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) and OpenTheGovernment.org expressed support for Congress’s refusal to re-authorize an illegal surveillance program without major reforms. Both organizations strongly oppose Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempts to further weaken the USA Freedom Act through the amendment process. Dr.

22 Groups Urge Congress to Oppose DoD Proposal to Alter FOIA

The Department of Defense (DoD) wants to use the National Defense Authorization Act (NDDA) to allow agencies to broadly interpret exemption 2 of the FOIA, which allows agencies to withhold records “related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.”Twenty-two groups joined OTG and the Project On Government Oversight in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, urging the Senators to reject the DoD’s proposal.

ACLU v. Clapper Shows that Secret Courts are No Substitute for Real Judicial Review

A unanimous panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday ruled that the NSA’s nationwide collection of Americans’ phone records is illegal, unauthorized by section 215 of the PATRIOT Act or any other statute.

OpenTheGovernment.org and Over 50 Other Groups Oppose PATRIOT Act Reauthorization Without Reform

OpenTheGovernment.org joined a broad, bipartisan group of over 50 organizations in strongly opposing Senator Mitch McConnell's effort to extend the PATRIOT Act for five years without any reform of surveillance programs. As the letter states, "[i]n the absence of meaningful reform, it is unacceptable to rubber stamp reauthorization of an authority that the government has used to spy on millions of innocent Americans."

Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act Introduced in House and Senate

The Legal Justice for Servicemembers Act, introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer, Ron Wyden, and Edward J. Markey and Congresswoman Jackie Speier, strengthens whistleblower protections rights for members of the Armed Forces. Twenty-seven groups joined the Government Accountability Project in strongly supporting the legislation.

OpenTheGovernment.org's Statement on the 2015 USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom Act, although it has represented Congress's best efforts at reform, has never been a complete solution to secretive mass surveillance. The government transparency provisions of USA Freedom 2015 fall far short of what is needed, but the bill would still provide Americans with more information about the scale of surveillance, and more information about how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court interprets the law, than they have now.

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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